The Temporary Goodbye

As you know, I’m off to Vietnam. Well, you know it if you’ve been reading this journal at all. When I return, there will be pictures and commentary. Slowly, mind you, because I’ve been doing some thinking.

In 2002, I began my Live Journal. I did so full of trepidation. Would the Internet become too much of a time sink for me? Would it become my replacement for writing? Well, no, as it turns out. It really takes me not too much time to whip out an entry for the things I want to talk about, and generally, I don’t seem to have a problem finding things to talk about. I didn’t get sucked into Facebook, and I avoided Twitter until all my Viable Paradise class showed up there. Then Twitter was unavoidable. I also look in at Codex, look at yahoo news, check a writer email account, and look at Dreamwidth. That’s my Internet day. On an intricate article day, it can be about 3 hours, but it’s usually an hour and half. Similarly, if I have a day at work when I can’t check the Internet, catching up can take all my morning.

Things…must change. A lot of my Internet interaction has become ritualized, but what I am doing is old-fashioned. I need to take some time to get away from Live Journal, for example. It’s a dying platform that is not at all attractive or useful. I go there because there are still old friends I read, and new people, but in the end, how many people’s journals do I read who know me, or who I really know? That’s some wasted time for me and them.

I don’t need to be going to Codex as often as I do. The crowd at Codex is a swell crowd, but I don’t need to be checking in every day. I don’t publish short stories, and the novelists there are few. Why? I suspect they might be writing novels? (Actually, I notice that with notable exceptions, people writing novels are rarely goofing around on the computer. Entries usually are a couple of times a week in their blogs if that. They are not frequent fliers on the message boards I frequent.)

So…here’s what I’m thinking.

1.I’ll get off Live Journal. I know there are ways to subscribe to the journals of friends I want to without being in the Live Journal community. My friend Chris mentioned something called Feedly, and I’m sure I can ask Mark about alternatives.

2. I’m only going to read a few journals. Certainly, people I actually know, and people I kind of know who are talking about things that interest me, and what I need to be researching for the writing.

3. I will NOT be coming on line during a given day unless I have reached my writing goals for the day, and reached my workout and food goals for the day. There. There’s some prioritizing for you. My knee hurts. My story is in second place of my computer stuff. Really. No, really. Since I have a full time job and an excellent relationship, these are the things that I must/want to prioritize. Numbers 3 and 4 gotta be fitness and writing (note the order. Writing does not get to keep happening if you don’t take care of yourself.)

4. With the exception of Twitter. WHEN I’m writing. I have found that I like being on Twitter when I write. I pull quotes from my work, and make complaints and ask questions about the characters, and it adds to the experience. Plus I think it’s an interesting way to have an “online presence” and a “platform.” Bleah.

5. I’m also not giving up my weekly chat with a good friend who lives out east, or our writer’s conferences on Thursday. These both help with the writing.

6. Overall, I’m not giving up much, except for TIME devoted to the INTERNET endeavor. I need to get away from every day time on line. If I spent this time working on my story every day, I suspect my writing would be deeper. If I spent this time working out every day, I suspect my knee would be happier. I should be able to write an entry at least once a week. Similarly, I should be able to check into Codex periodically, and read my friend’s journals periodically.


You know, someone once said that the artist’s enemy is obscurity. I believe now that the artist’s enemy is procrastination. I am writing, but I’m not getting the result I want yet. Which, by the way, is not to get published. It’s to produce a damned good readable body of work, which incidentally may or may not get published. Also, I’m tired of having the health problems which result from me being overweight. I am not a healthy fat person. If I were, those priorities would be different.

And you know, I need to reshuffle my life so those two things, which are more important than the time I spend on the Internet, are front and center. I can’t do anything about the job that I haven’t already done. I want the marriage to stay as good as it is. So, always, that’s the core of my life. But I want to reshuffle what I’m doing with my free time.

Also up for a change this year? I suppose, once I get this Internet routine adjusted to, I should start updating my tech. First my laptop (I suspect I’d best have a new one ready to go by next summer, as we’re on the second hard drive now), and then my phone. But you know, thinking long term.


So, goodbye for now. With the exception of typing out notes to the husband on the Nook to say I’m alive, no one will hear from me again until June 29th. Try not to miss me or my amusing anecdotes. I am sure my absence will be covered pleasantly by pictures of cats in overalls or something.

And then, when I get back, less of me. BUT maybe more of my material to read.

Have a safe and happy June. I will be working hard and I’ll try not to come back with malaria.

Wiscon: Large House, Small Press, Self-Publishing: The Good, the Bad and the Surprising

Author’s note: This was the most comprehensive panel on this subject I’ve been on, and also the one where every participant took every option seriously. Shout out to the panelists for a great job!

Moderator: Wesley Chu
Sarah Carless
Bob Crum
Jesi Lean Ryan
James Frenkel

Moderator Wesley asked about the state of publishing currently.

Jim: Publishing is very exciting. Ebooks impact paper sales.
Jim talked about Tor’s model of sharing ebooks.
Mentioned that where publishing is taking more of a beating is mass market paper back distribution

Sarah: She’s a digital book seller. From a global perspective, she is finding that ebooks are helping borders to fall. they are also opening doors and opportunity.

Jesi: She was once published by a small press, and now self-publishes. She did not have a good experience with her small press, but she learned a lot. For her second book, she decided to do it herself.
One of the things that helps Jesi is that she has an MBA in marketing.
Distribution is her biggest hang up.
If you are going into self-publishing, go in with your eyes open. It’s a lot of work.

There are pros and cons to every approach.
The panel shared a handout of the pros and cons to 5 entry points

Print books aren’t dead.
There is a fragmentation of the industry.
Specialization and niche markets (ie Vinyl is making a comeback!)

Pricing models are a mess right now.

One of the benefits and curses of the ebook is that there is access to more literature.
It’s tough to get to the good stuff and find the good stuff.
Self publishing needs quality control.

Distribution is the largest problem for an Indie Publisher.

You can do what a major publisher does, but you have to spend A LOT of time and money doing it.

Self publishers need a business plan.
The self publishing gold rush is over.

As with traditional publishing, the cream rises to the top.

An agent helps with the business plan if you go a more traditional route.
Questions of consulting a subject matter expert versus the agent taking their cut.

How much control does an author have?
In traditional publishing, little control.
Frenkel disagrees with this. Author has last words on edit.
But he agrees. No control on cover.

In epublishing, you need to be both passionate and dispassionate about your product.
Be willing to listen to others.
You get to do everything.

How do you establish prices?
Traditional looks what competition is doing.
Indie: Perception from audience about value of book based on price.

Some discussion about reselling ebooks as used ebooks
Some discussion about library ebooks.

Traditional publishing has marketing support for author. First books are often supported. There is enthusiasm .

Have you thought about your author platform? Social media plan?
Obscurity s your enemy.
Some authors do less social media and they do suffer.

The indie author has own website. There’s an ecommerce store front. Facebook is a given, as is soliciting Amazon reviews.

A discussion on the effectiveness of various social media.

Wiscon: It’s Actually Quite Hard to Rip a Bodice Part 2

Panelists: Mary Robinette Kowal (moderator), Vylar Kaftan, Jo Walton, Amy Butler Greenfield, Delia Sherman

Vylar’s Recap from Last Year
Where do you go to get sources for historical fantasy?
How do you find sources?
How do you deal with problematic perspectives on race and gender?
When do you stop researching and start writing?

Amy stays with facts when she writes non-fiction.
In fiction, she researches deeply. She also looks at the literature and primary materials of the period.
Once she hears voices, she limits research.
If her manuscript stops cold, she will return to research.
She fills in small gaps as she goes.

Delia writes and researches at the same time.
She reads social history, novels, and memoirs.
Delia says there is never a point where you stop researching.

Vylar says she researches fifty percent first. Then she drafts.
When she discovers what she doesn’t know, she’ll research minimally throughout (10 percent).
Researches forty percent at the end.

Jo writes in a place she’s already familiar with, so she never leaves blanks as she goes.
She usually has already been reading general research for what she’s writing.

Mary researches ahead of time. She does broad research for what she’s writing. for about a month. She writes quickly and fills in details later. She will stop when she hits plot or character trouble.

Continue reading “Wiscon: It’s Actually Quite Hard to Rip a Bodice Part 2”

Wiscon Readings

At Wiscon, I took in a few readings. Let’s talk about them.

Oxford Comma Bonfire: The readers were Vylar Kaftan, Nancy Hightower, Michael Underwood and LaShawn Wanak. Vylar read an upcoming story from the Mayhem and Glitter anthology. Nancy read a short about an artist creating a pathological disease from his work, LaShawn read an amazing piece about the divine driving those who had seen angels mad, and Michael read a piece from his new novel Celebromancy. I enjoyed all the readings, and Michael was such a performer that he has agreed to give me an interview about his technique.

Monsters, Magic, Mayhem, and Mothers: Also New York: Christopher Barzak, Kristin Livdahl, and M. Rickhart. Lots of good stories here as well. It’s no secret that I’m a Barzak fan, and his story, also coming in Glitter and Mayhem was a riff on the twelve dancing princesses. I am finding that my memory fails me about the other two stories, which is inexcusable, but is testimony more to my recent schedule than there quality.

Compass Reading: Catherine Schaff-Stump, Alex Jennings, David Engelstad, and Anna LaForge. No point in talking about my own reading, but my three partners in crime read some interesting things. David and Anna both presented a very different kind of high fantasy each, and Alex read from Peaches! his high concept YA that I’m on the look out for as soon as it comes out.


There were a lot of other excellent readings that I’d wish I’d gotten to. It’s really one of the strengths of the convention.

Topsy Turvy Days and Surprise from Russia

Around my topsy turvy day yesterday, I did have time to write about three Tamago entries, but between the lines, my husband stopped by and surprised me with roses, and a trip out to our favorite pizza place for lunch. We had a Zookie, which is a cookie sundae, for my birthday, and I figured, you know, I might only have 52 more years, so I should sneak that in. ;P

It was great. I think I like the Granite City Cookie a bit more, because of the toffee chewiness with the chocolate, but they really are two different critters. Accepting the weight gain, I moved on.

Until today, when, between a meeting about college student support reform (take that, noun phrases!) and another one, the last Vietnam meeting with students before we go, my boss Allison thought that since I had a birthday yesterday, and Lorna, who is substituting for Sharon this week, has one today, that we should have little mini-cakes from the New Pioneer Co-op, known for particularly delicious cakes. There was a raspberry cheesecake and a lemon chiffon raspberry cake, both of which were delicately decorated and presented, and which I didn’t feel I could say no to. So, I took one for the team there. Mmmm, but not helping. Well, I’ll accept that weight gain and move on too. Let’s think of the current me as Rubenesque.

Bryon and I are going out for Italian tonight. It was my plan to have creme brulee, but I think I’ll just stick to the seafood spaghetti. I’m actually kind of full.

Looking forward to two weeks of hard labor, small portions, and healthy food in Singapore and Vietnam, if for no other reason than the last two days.


So, I have spent most of my day tracking down a few last Vietnam facts, like time differences, phone numbers for the hotels we’d be staying at and so on. However, the coolest thing that happened to me today? Behold the awesome power of the Internet.

Below, read about Hulk Hercules in Russia. I didn’t even know Hulk Hercules was in Russia!

Continue reading “Topsy Turvy Days and Surprise from Russia”

Viable Paradise: The Deadline Looms

I’ve got just enough time at the end of my day to tell you, yes you, about Viable Paradise.

First of all, you must understand that Viable Paradise is when I understood that the world took my writing seriously. Secondly, it’s when I met an awesome group of people who came together during the week in a way that would cement life time bonds. Thirdly, it was my only chance ever to see glow in the dark jellyfish.

Listen, I plugged Taos Toolbox, and that was great, but first, before you climb the mountain, you need to ride the ferry. Go to Martha’s Vineyard and find out that there are people who think you can tell a story.

Trust me. You’ll be mates with the students on twitter forever. Also, you’ll get to witness the ongoing battle between two of the volunteers who support you on sugar versus health food. These people not only feed you, they’ve been you, man!

So, is this for you?
Go look and see.


Another post I need to sneak in today is that today is my 48th birthday. I try to do a State of the Me address every year. Today is a normal work day, with a night devoted to packing for the upcoming trip to Vietnam, some exercise, and some writing. Tomorrow we’ll actually go out for a nice dinner and celebrate the occasion.


What’s it like to be 48?

Physically: When all things are said and done, my weight remains mostly constant. The lowest I’ve been this year is 211, and the highest (returning from the Writer’s Retreat, which fattened me up nicely) is 220. I am currently 218ish. That puts me at 70 pounds overweight, which is not good because of the below health issues.

Lots of small things are wrong with me: arthritic right knee, dust allergy, acid reflux disease, slight depression, slight anxiety, and thyroid issues. All of these are kept in check with minor meds, except the reflux, which requires a more potent med. Diet and exercise, remarkably almost exactly the same diet and exercise, are recommended for all these problems, except the dust allergy.

This year I plan to walk more (good for the knee), do more yoga and tai chi (good for the knee), and eat less more frequently (good for the knee and the stomach.Probably good for everything else.)

Now, what about physical appearance? Well, normally, I’m not thrilled looking at photos of myself these days, but you know, I can still clean up pretty well if I have to. I’m getting used to what I look like at this age, weight and wrinkles and all. It begins to seem foolish to me to lament the loss of a more youthful appearance, because there’s no hope of things improving. In fact, quite the reverse, so I’d best get over my vanity. I continue to dress in unusual clothes and dye my hair red, both of which are working for me at this time.


Mentally: The brain remains sharp. While my memory isn’t what it used to be, human beings don’t have memories like that. I’m talking about my formerly uncanny ability to remember lists and lists and dump them out on tests, or floor people with quick memorization. Now my memory approaches something more akin to “normal” and I’m fine. There is one place where I’m finding a little bit of a scramble. I read a word occasionally and guess what the word is incorrectly, and misinterpret the message. That usually doesn’t make sense, and I have to take a second look.

But I’m not forgetful, I still have a strong sense of memorization and remembrance, and I can still read and process a great deal. Probably pretty usual for 48.

Continue reading “48”

Artistic Dreams

Steve Buchheit posts this from Kameron Hurley. And…it makes wheels turn.

The last thing I needed was another blog post to distract me from catching up. Thank you very much, Steve…


Maybe I can fold this sucker into a post about our retreat. Yeah. I’ll do that. First of all, from May 29 until June 4 I was at or in transit to/from a writing retreat in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This is the third retreat I’ve done organized by roughly the same group of people, although I would say there’s some turnover in attendees every year. Miranda Suri has an excellent post on the retreat here, and most of this I agree with. I honestly don’t know if I’m going back or not next year, but the retreat was very good. It’s that I’m limiting myself to one next year. Mama’s gotta start making some home repairs to sell her house and move to Florida in a few years. Ten years can, in fact, get away from you like you wouldn’t believe, and I want to make sure that dream happens.

Anyway, here’s the lot of us in a formal picture from the retreat. I’d best put a cut in here, yes?

Continue reading “Artistic Dreams”

And We’re Back

Most of the day, Writer Tamago was down due to some server difficulties, but it looks like all the problems have been handled, and we’re back on the air!


So, now, some snippets from the day. First of all, Paradise Icon registration via Pay Pal is now available. There’s a link at the top of the page. Talk to me if you think coming to Iowa in November is an awesome idea. Really. It’s gonna rock.


Preparation for Vietnam continues apace. I’ll be shopping in some unusual places this weekend (Dick’s Sporting Goods; thrift shops). I’m prepping for mosquitoes and construction, not glamor.


Speaking of glamor, Margo did my hair last night, and today, even though I’ve gained weight (curse you, Glenwood Springs and fluctuating body hormones!), I felt chic. Honestly, vainly chic. All black outfit, copper hair pulled back in 60s style. Yes, I know you wanted to see it. You have to imagine it though. It’s the end of the day, and I am no longer chic.


Did I mention I’m on thyroid meds now? So, I have finally gotten over the leg cramping part of the adjustment period (which totally was nasty) and now my body thinks it’s a good idea to gain a little weight. Or more importantly, help me maintain the weight I put on while I was eating like a horse in Colorado. Stay tuned. This too should pass.


Next week, expect Wiscon and retreat posts. I’ll get to as many as I can. For Wiscon, there’s one on readings for sure. I managed to get good notes for at least one panel. The rest may be all partials, alas. I’ll post what I’ve got. And then retreat pictures and comments.


So. Good to be live again.

Wiscon: Overview

It’s been a while since I went to Wiscon, and there’s been another trip in between, so it seems like I’m looking through the mists of time. It was also an atypical Wiscon, because I didn’t do many of the usual Wiscon things.

I didn’t go to the Gathering. I know that’s something like sacrilege, but I hooked up with fellow Taos Toolboxer Chris East, whom it was excellent to see. We talked about…writing! It was during this time that I was introduced to my theme tea for the weekend, Evening in Missoula, which I bought a bag of to take home. I’d like to be drinking it right now!

Chris was hail and hearty and doing great, so it was good to see him. After Chris, I headed back to the hotel to hook up with Yolanda, Dan, and Lisa, the good friends that I travel to the convention with. We had dinner at Ian’s Pizza, which isn’t all that, but is the place to go if you feel the need to have, say macaroni pizza. Then Lisa and I went to opening ceremonies.

Karaoke returned this year, but unlike usually, I only sang one song. I discovered on my first song that while the audience might not have noticed, my voice cracked a couple of times, and we weren’t quite ready for that kind of vocal box activity. Thank you again, bronchitis. Still, a good time was had, and after that, I checked out some parties, went to a reading, and hit the hay.


I’ve been staying in the Governor’s Club for the last couple of years, and I do like the free breakfast, the complimentary drinks (which are mostly non-alcoholic in my case now), and some of the lovely snacks. There is a view in the lounge of the capitol that is very pretty at night. Julia Rios and I hooked up for breakfast and chatted about this and that, and then I was off to a day of panels and readings. I’ll tell you more about them as we move through the posts.


Hooking up with more friends is always wonderful. I had a chance to praise Chris Barzak for his new book, and chat with Will Alexander. Caroline Stevermer, Yo, Lisa, and I went out for both dinner and coffee. There were some more fly by conversations with folks. It was just nice to be free and easy, relaxed and see people. I had a chance to say hello to Kimberly Long- Ewing and volunteer at the Broad Universe table. I said hello to Eddie Schneider. Lisa Cohen, who was mistress of ceremonies at the Tiptree, was kind enough to save us dessert salon chairs by the main stage.


I did hit a lot of parties, but I must tell you, this year Jennifer Pelland is to blame for any anti-social tendencies. Why? I made the mistake of starting Machine just before beginning the trip, and oh my. I couldn’t put that thing down. I stayed up late Sunday to finish it. This was after my reading and checking out the genderfloomp and the parties for a brief moment. It’s an excellent book, but very disturbing. Check it out, but that said, Jennifer’s autograph says not to allow children withing 300 feet of it. That’s right.


Leaving Wiscon this year made me very pensive. One year, I’d like to go to Wiscon as an agented writer. That year will come, but two “young” writers I knew had agents this year, so to see transformation like that actually makes you believe it will happen to you in good time. Hunh. New writing problems, yes?

And I realized that this was the first part of about a month where I will be in and out of my own life. I feel a bit like a stranger in Iowa, standing in front of this computer, working in drips and drabs while I’m getting ready to go somewhere else. Like I said, pensive.

Next–I’ll talk about readings and some panels. I really didn’t do a lot of either this year, given the social stuff that was going on, but I’m happy to share what I did do.